The Makarewa Headwaters Catchment Group like to meet every month or two, either at a local’s house or farm, on zoom or at meeting room in Winton, and mix up meetings with interesting topics and presentations, with shorter project based ones.
They made the most of a fantastic opportunity last October, when Corina Jordan - Environmental Strategy Manager for B+LNZ, was in Southland. Corina became a key speaker at their on farm field day and woolshed discussion on the new National Environmental Standards for Freshwater. They looked at the practical aspects of the new legislation and possible on farm solutions, and toured Mark & Elspeth’s Thomson’s Farm to work through the new legislation and come up with possible solutions.
Learning all about the Lora and Otapiri Gorges water quality was the topic of their next meeting, with a great presentation from Justin Kitto, one of DairyNZ's Water Quality Specialists. He spoke for almost two hours (with all the questions!) on water quality and ecosystem health, and how humans and animals impact them. As part of the presentation, he had analysed the groups water quality data from Environment Southland and helped them understand what it meant for their area. There were lots of questions and great discussions.
In December, the group worked with Limehills School and the Environment Southland’s Education Team to investigate the health of the Otapiri Stream using the SHMAK kit (Stream Health Monitoring Assessment Kit) on. It was a gorgeous day, and lots of fun was had. It was great to see Limehills School and the Makarewa Headwaters Catchment Group working together, as many of the Catchment Group families are part of the school community.
The group then started the 2021 year with a very special field day on Margaret and Malcolm Mackenzie's Farm, looking at their native plant nursery and impressive shelter belts. It was an amazing opportunity to hear and learn from Malcolm as he shared his extensive knowledge on successfully propagating native seed from local sources, through to seeing what these native shelterbelts can look like in a short period with well managed establishment processes. Jesse Bythell from the QEII Trust provided a wealth of knowledge too.
Finally, the group (along with the other Southland Catchment Groups) took part in a nationwide eDNA (environmental DNA) water quality monitoring programme. This will provide valuable information on the plants and animals found in and around New Zealand’s waterways.